Updates: School Street Breakthrough, BART Bike Rule Fix
...and Larkspur multi-use path approved
2:38 PM PDT on October 2, 2023
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This was a rough couple of weeks in the Bay Area, with six people killed in traffic violence in Oakland, including a small child. Valencia Street's experimental bike lane in San Francisco also claimed its first victim. And yet there has been some progress on projects to make a better future in the Bay Area that doesn't revolve exclusively around the car.
Tenderloin school-street project unblocked
Streetsblog broke this story about an effort to create some play space on Elm Alley behind the Tenderloin Community School. Local advocate Scott Bravmann was fighting like hell to get part of the alley closed to create a school street, similar to what's pictured in the lead image, which was taken in Paris.
He claimed, and SFMTA later (inadvertently?) confirmed via email days after the post ran, that the reason they couldn't create a full-time play street is they didn't want to sacrifice a handful of parking spaces. Those parking spaces indeed make the street too narrow for cars to turn into and out of the parking garage driveways near the Polk side of Elm. And "removing on-street parking spaces is not a reasonable solution," wrote SFMTA's engineers.
Apparently, thanks in part to pressure from Supervisor Dean Preston's office, SFMTA's engineers were forced to redefine what constitutes "reasonable." From an email Bravmann sent to Streetsblog on Thursday, Sept. 28:
Today SFMTA informed us of their tentative approval of the project...SFMTA was willing to compromise and allow the mid-block closure as long as we also place orange cones at the intersection with Polk Street in order to signal the closure to drivers. Though we have been suggesting for three years that signage and street painting would decrease the amount of traffic on the street and increase safety, SFMTA is convinced that traffic cones will work better - and, apparently, not quickly disappear.
We will continue to pursue the Major Encroachment Permit so we can install a gate and, I hope, fully convert the western two-thirds of the alley into permanently car-free, kid-focused open space.
There's still work to do, including getting final approval from the Board of Supervisors, but Bravmann seemed confident that it will get done. Moreover, "given the fairly quick acquiescence, I'm sure the Streetsblog article helped move things along. Quite a few people contacted me asking how they could help slap some sense into the bureaucrats, and a friend who works for [State Assemblymember] Phil Ting sent [the post] directly to SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin."
Seems like a good time to remind people that Streetsblog exists because of donations?
BART rules updated to be friendlier to cyclists
BART Director Rebecca Saltzman DM'd Streetsblog last week to let us know about an upcoming "vote on policy changes I introduced to BART’s bike rules, including ending the ban on bikes on BART escalators. It’s time to end this restriction to make it easier for riders to use bikes and BART together."
As she pointed out, BART last updated its bike rules ten years ago. The escalator and stair ban never made any sense (and was largely ignored anyway). The elevators are needed for people with mobility issues or for people who can't carry a bike up stairs or an escalator.
The Board also cleaned up other bike rules, such as allowing cyclists to secure their bikes--as opposed to holding them for the entire train ride. This rule was also largely ignored, and has made even less sense since BART trains added bike racks and straps.
The old rules will phase out January 1 to give staff time to change the signs. In the meantime, Streetsblog asks cyclists who use BART to continue to be guided by safety, courtesy, and common sense as the only rules that really matter.
Bike path on Old Redwood Highway saved
Streetsblog already posted a short addendum after first reporting on this, but the threat to the multiuse path connecting the Corte Madera Creek Bridge to Wornum Drive is over. From a post by Marin County Bicycle Coalition's Warren Wells:
Despite being ready for construction (and paid for by state and federal funding) one of Larkspur’s councilmembers tried to kill the project at their September 6th meeting. All the council needed to do was approve the construction, but councilmember Carroll took issue with it. He raised a host of complaints, namely that the nearby community (where he happens to live) had not been sufficiently consulted. He also stated that the pathway would be too noisy and that there wasn’t lighting. Finally, he would have preferred it be built on the east side of the street.
Carroll was beyond convincing, but thankfully...
...the project was approved 3-1 at the September 20th City Council meeting. The city will be seeking to award the project to a construction firm by October 31, with construction beginning as early as November. We thank all the people who wrote to the city council, helping this important project move forward. We are one step closer to completing another 0.2 miles of Marin’s North-South Greenway.
Now Marin advocates can focus on closing the western half of this gap so people can ride from the new bridge to the Wornum Drive path without risking life and limb trying to get past a bunch of ramps and shopping center driveways.
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